Grizzly Bears spotted in the Sweet Grass Hills

After decades of absence, once-native grizzly bears have been spotted in the hills north of Chester.

State wildlife officials are asking residents and recreationists of the Sweet Grass Hills to be bear aware after the sighting of a couple of grizzly bears recently.

“We believe there are at least two bears in the Hills,” said Mike Madel, bear management specialist with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, adding the bears were involved in the killing of several sheep.

The Sweet Grass Hills are on the Canadian border north of Chester. The bears were sighted between West Butte and Middle Butte, sometimes called Gold Butte.

Madel said he’s not sure where the bears came from. They could be sub-adults seen last year in the hills or even bears that came down the Milk River from Canada.

“And it’s possible there are other bears in the area,” Madel said. “There are lots of coulees around the hills, and this time of year they provide shade and chokecherries.”

Residents and recreationists in the Sweet Grass Hills need to remember to be aware that bears could be present and take necessary precautions including securing livestock feed, pet food, garbage and barbecues. Hunters are advised to carry bear spray.

In addition, FWP offers assistance to livestock operators such as electric fencing.

“Permanent electric fencing around sheep bedding grounds can prevent additional sheep depredations,” Madel said.

Anyone seeing a grizzly in the Sweet Grass Hills is urged to contact Madel at 788-4755 or to call 1-800-TIPMONT